Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure 2017


Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan, offers some of the most desolate and rugged yet sublimely beautiful winter landscape photography opportunities on the planet. It’s the minimalist winter photographer’s dream.

Tokyo based photographer Martin Bailey has been traveling to Hokkaido yearly for more than 10 years and has a deep understanding of the island. Although British born, Martin has lived in Japan for 25 years, speaks fluent Japanese and understands the culture fully, making him your perfect host.


You’ll be provided with more details in our tour guidebook after you reserve your place, but here is an outline of our itinerary during our twelve day landscape photography adventure in the frozen far north of Japan.

Jan 8 Haneda Airport

To ensure that the group is all together and ready to leave early on Jan 9, we include the night of Jan 8 (Sunday) in the tour, and for those that arrive early enough in the evening, we will start to get to know each other over an optional dinner at the hotel at Haneda airport.

Mount Asahi Trees

Mount Asahi Trees

Jan 9, 10, 11: Biei

Fly from Haneda Airport (Tokyo) to Asahikawa Airport in central Hokkaido. This area offers beautiful inland winter landscape opportunities, with rolling hills and distant mountains, streams and the occasional lone tree on a hill. We stay in a hotel near the beautiful Shirohige (White Beard) Falls, which appears as a breathtaking iridescent blue in the dawn light. We spend our first three nights in this area, before traveling to the west coast of the island.

Seventeen Trees

Seventeen Trees

Jan 12, 13: Haboro

From day four we spend two days based in a coastal hotel at the small fishing town of Haboro. The coast is punctuated with groups of wave breaking tetrapods that make for stark subjects in the rough seas. The port at Haboro also offers some nice industrial fishing boat scenes and paraphernalia.

Obira Tetrapods

Obira Tetrapods

Jan 14, 15: Wakkanai

A steady drive up the west coast takes us past the islands of Rishiri and Rebun to Wakkanai. Wakkanai is the northern most city of Japan, and a great base to photograph the rugged seascapes, fishing harbours and fish drying frames.

Fish Drying Racks in Snow

Fish Drying Racks in Snow

Jan 16, 17: Ohmu

At the start of day 8 we drive to the Souya Harbor, northern-most tip of Japan, from where on a clear day we’ll be able to see the Russian island of Sakhalin to the north.

Souya Harbour Boats on a Sea of Snow

Souya Harbour Boats on a Sea of Snow

We then head down the east coast of Hokkaido to the town of Ohmu where we spend a further two days. Dawn will give us the possibility of photographing a misshaped sun as it rises over a slither of land in the distance and we’ll explore the coastline and go inland for a while before heading further down the coast to Lake Saroma.

Ohmu Port with Sea Trails

Ohmu Port with Sea Trails

Jan 18, 19: Lake Saroma

Our last two days in Hokkaido are spent at Lake Saroma, with lake side views from our luxurious hotel. Saroma is the largest lake in Hokkaido and the third largest in Japan. Also known as the Saroma Lagoon, this shallow body of water freezes easily, offering minimalist landscape photography  opportunities.

Fishing Boats with Snow "Fuumon" Wind Patterns

Fishing Boats with Snow “Fuumon” Wind Patterns

Jan 20: Photography in the morning then return to Tokyo

On the final day we’ll spend the morning photographing in the Saroma or Abashiri areas and inland winter landscape on the way to the Memanbetsu Airport, then return to Tokyo, Haneda airport on an afternoon flight.

Fox with Fence on Hill

Fox with Fence on Hill

Expedition Spirit

The weather from Siberia beats down relentlessly on Hokkaido, particularly the north-western coast that we’ll be visiting. This means there is a very good chance that we find ourselves snowed-in at the hotel on occasion. Logistically, we will handle this, but as a group we must remain flexible. Those same weather fronts are what make our the locations we visit so amazing, but a sense of adventure and a good sense of humour are essential for all participants of this tour.

Boat Graveyard in Heavy Snow

Boat Graveyard in Heavy Snow

Additional Information

Accommodation & Meals

We stay in a mix of Japanese and western style hotels, with great food, sometimes buffet style, though often meals prepared specifically for our group. We’ll note if you have an food preferences (allergies, vegetarian etc.) and make changes as possible to suit your needs. Many of the hotels have relaxing hot springs baths to relax after a day out shooting.

Everyone is automatically booked into a single room, unless you participate as a couple or are traveling with a room mate. No single supplement required, but there is a discount for a shared room. Note though that we will not pair you with another traveler, so if you are traveling alone, please book a single room.

What is included in the Package?

  • All accommodation and meals during your tour
  • Flights from Tokyo Haneda airport to Hokkaido and back
  • A chartered bus with driver (and lots of luggage space) to transport us safely and comfortably around Hokkaido for the entire trip
  • A tour conductor from our tour partner travels with us throughout to ensure all the logistics run smoothly – and enable Martin to give full attention to working with the group

What is NOT included in the Package?

  • Any international flights or travel costs to the meeting points in Tokyo or back home after the tours
  • Hotels while traveling prior to or following the tour/workshops
  • Dinner on the first Sunday. Not everyone will arrive in time so we exclude this from the tour fees
  • Beverages or additional items ordered during meals

Guidebook PDF

After you sign up, you will receive a PDF document to help you with your preparations. This will contain details on recommended camera gear, cold weather clothing, and advice on Japanese etiquette to help make your stay in Japan as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. There is also a detailed itinerary, maps and hotel phone numbers etc. to leave with your loved ones while you’re away.

Konpira Jinja Torii

Konpira Jinja Torii

Cost & Reservation

The total cost for this tour is ¥595,000 (approx. US$5,897) for a single room or ¥565,000 (approx. US$5,600) per person for a double / shared room. Note that you may only select the Double / Shared Room option if you are traveling with a partner or room-mate. We will not match you up with a room-mate otherwise, so if you are traveling alone, select the Single Room option. To book your place, you are required to pay a reservation fee of ¥115,000 (approx. US$1,140) by credit card, Paypal or bank transfer. The tour fee balance is payable 90 days before the start of the tour. (Current rate used: 1 USD = 100.8936 JPY)

Note that the US dollar amounts displayed here are updated dynamically every hour, for your reference, but may vary slightly from what you pay due to varying rates used by credit cards and paypal during the conversion from Japanese Yen to your local currency.


  • Fees are payable in Japanese Yen (¥) and will be automatically converted to your local currency by your credit card company or PayPal, or by your bank if you pay by bank transfer
  • The dollar amounts shown are estimates for reference only and may be changed at any time based on exchange rate fluctuation
  • You may pay in US $ is necessary, but there is a small percentage added to actual exchange rates, which will result in you paying a little more than necessary
  • During checkout if you select to pay by bank transfer when you check out, you will be emailed our business bank account details. Please ensure that you send the balance in Japanese Yen for this tour. If sending in Yen is not possible, ask your bank to calculate the price based on their current exchange rates before sending
  • The tour requires a minimum of ten (10) participants (a maximum of 14) to be signed up to go ahead. We’ll let you know, but please ensure that the tour has reached the minimum number of participants before you purchase any flights that require cancellations fees

Cancellation Policy/Fees

Reservation Fee / Deposit – If you decide to cancel up to three months before the start of the tour, your reservation fee will be refunded if we are able to back-fill your place. If you cancel within three months of the start of the tour, we cannot refund your deposit (see notes below)

Tour Fees / Balance – If you cancel your reservation the following charges will be payable (see notes below)

  • If you cancel more than 61 days before the start of the tour your balance will be refunded in full
  • From 60 to 31 days before the start of the tour, cancellation fees are 25% of your balance
  • From 30 to 8 days before the start of the trip, cancellation fees are 50% of your balance
  • From 7 days to 72 hours before the start of the trip, cancellation fees are 75% of your balance
  • If you cancel less than 72 hours before the start of the trip, we cannot refund your balance

Notes on Cancellation Fees and Notification Timing

  • Any transfer charges and transaction fees incurred on accepting and/or refunding any payments will be deducted from any refund amounts due
  • The number of days to tour start are calculated from 9am Japan Standard Time. Email received after 6pm JST on the previous day will be calculated from 9am JST the following day.

A Word on Insurance

Wakkanai Fishing Boat - Urara

Wakkanai Fishing Boat – Urara

Our Tour Operator carries standard insurance necessary by Japanese law but you are strongly advised to arrange the following insurance:

  • Travel Insurance — If you fall sick or have an accident during the course of the trip, you will miss part of your tour, and possibly incur hospital fees and other expenses that can mount up. We strongly advise you to take out travel insurance for yourself for the entire length of the trip in advance of departure
  • Cancellation Insurance — This is often included in your Travel Insurance, but if for any reason you have to cancel your tour, cancellation insurance can help you recuperate your costs
  • Note that travel and cancellation insurance usually has to be bought within 10 days of booking the tour or less. Please check on this as soon as you book.
  • Camera Equipment Insurance — We also suggest that you insure your photography equipment and belongings if not included in your home or travel insurance. If you already have your gear insured, double check that you are covered for international travel too, if you are visiting Japan from another country

Influenza Vaccinations

You do not need any special vaccinations for Japan, but you are strongly advised to ensure that you’ve had an influenza shot for that season by no later than two weeks prior to coming to Japan. These tours coincide with the flu season here in Japan, and we would not like you to lose valuable photography days in bed or risk infecting the rest of the group, if we can help it. Vaccinations are not 100% though. It’s good practice to wash your hands and gargle with water when you get to your hotel, especially after traveling on public transport.

To book your place on this tour, pay the reservation fee using the button below.

Please switch currency to Japanese Yen with this pull-down before proceeding. The dollar amounts below may not be accurate as the exchange rates fluctuate. You may need to give the page a few seconds to update…

Reservation Payment

Balance Payment

NOTE: The balance payment is payable 3 months before the start date of the tour. Please use the button above to start the payment process, and ensure that you change the currency to Japanese Yen before checking out.


Any Questions?

If you are interested in coming along but want more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to seeing you in Japan, for the winter landscape photography tour of a lifetime!

— Martin Bailey.


Related Podcasts

Here are a few podcasts to walk you through previous tours.

2016 Tour: Part #1, Part #2, Part #3

2015 Tour: Part #1, Part #2

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